June 16, 2022  

WASHINGTON - The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) today called for the Biden Administration to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) report finding that Kingtom Aluminio SRL evaded U.S. aluminum extrusion tariffs.

Three detailed Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) investigations found substantial evidence that imports from Kingtom - a Chinese-owned company operating in the Dominican Republic - included Chinese extrusions transshipped through the Dominican Republic to avoid paying duties. However, the U.S. government asked to revisit its findings in one of the earlier cases, which the U.S. Court of International Trade granted.

"The Administration must defend the original CBP findings to ensure a fair extruded aluminum market for American manufacturers," said Jeff Henderson, president of the AEC. "EAPA was passed to improve trade law enforcement and duty collection for antidumping and countervailing duty orders, but the law does no good if CBP does not support and defend its findings."

After analyzing the record in EAPA Investigation 7550, CBP found in the February 4, 2022, report that there is "substantial evidence that {Kingtom} entered merchandise covered by antidumping duty (AD) order A-570-967 and countervailing duty (CVD) order C-570-968 on aluminum extrusions from China into the customs territory of the United States through evasion." Specifically, the report stated that "Substantial evidence demonstrates {Kingtom} imported Chinese-origin extrusions that were either co-mingled or transshipped to the United States with a claimed country of origin as the Dominican Republic."

"By revisiting its initial finding, the government is saying that foreign companies benefit from playing dirty," said Henderson. "This decision undermines the entire EAPA statute and CBP's authority. The government must go to bat for CBP, EAPA and all the domestic industries that are being harmed by foreign companies cheating the system. For EAPA to remain an effective tool, it must be enforced."

Kingtom has also been found guilty of worker abuses and subsequently shutdown by the Dominican government. The AEC and the United Steelworkers filed a petition asking CBP (pursuant to 19 CFR 12.42) to find that aluminum extrusions imported from Kingtom in the Dominican Republic are produced "wholly or in part" by forced labor and, thus, prohibited from entering the U.S. (under 19 USC 1307).

As part of one of the EAPA investigations, CBP visited Kingtom's facility in the Dominican Republic for a verification procedure, from August 30, 2021, to September 2, 2021. Officials from both CBP and DHS were present. CBP's observations during this verification demonstrate numerous forced labor violations, including the withholding of wages, intimidation and threats, the abuse of vulnerabilities, restriction of movement, and abusive working conditions. Over the four-day verification, CBP's team received over 50 messages from local workers (notes or covert text messages) claiming mistreatment at the hands of the Chinese management.

"AEC also calls on CBP to take action to halt the import of Kingtom extrusions based on these forced labor violations," Henderson said.